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Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

of fertility. The results obtained are then examined with respect to their implications on the formulation of public policies that might influence fertility in the desired direction. The discussion in this paper is organized under two main headings corresponding to these two stages. The fact that the exposition here focuses on the economics of fertility reduction merely reflects the nature of the contemporary debate. The framework of the cost-benefit analysis itself is, of course, perfectly general and, mutatis mutandis, would be equally well suited for an examination of the economic case for any proposed pronatalist policy.
THE ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF REDUCING FERTILITY
An adequate treatment of this topic would have to embrace virtually all important problems having to do with the economics of development and could be handled satisfactorily only in a general equilibrium framework involving fertility itself as a dependent variable. No such treatment yet exists or is in sight, but the literature on various aspects of the general problem is broad and is rapidly growing. Because of the limitations imposed on this paper, only the briefest reference will be given here to the main themes of this literature. For a comprehensive survey of the state of the art in this field the reader may be referred to the materials of the 1965 World Population Conference,* as well as to some more recent reviews (5, 6) and recent representative studies (7-12). It was assumed that the usefulness of the present discussion will be enhanced if it focuses primarily on the deficiencies and analytical weaknesses, rather than on the achievements, of the existing framework.
As a matter of simple description, in the present-day world the frequency distribution of countries according to the level of their fertility is pronouncedly bimodal. Accordingly, while there is considerable variation within each broad group, countries may be labeled as having either "high" or "low" fertility. The potential reduction of fertility, measured in absolute terms, differs greatly between these two groups. This circumstance, combined with the fact that a separation of countries into the high and low fertility groups pari passu separates the "less developed" economies from the "developed" ones, results in substantial differences in the nature and quantitative importance of the economic effects attributed to fertility change in the two groups.
Countries with High Fertility
With an average crude birth rate in the low 40's, a reduction of fertility of at least 50 percent would be necessary to bring the birth rate in this group
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